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November 21, 2023
Pastor Sues Mayor After Being Removed From Board Over His Christian Beliefs, Refusal To Condemn "Transphobia"
Religious freedom is intended to prevent the mob from imposing certain beliefs onto others. This subsequently prevents the government from telling people what to think.
Religious freedom is also intended to preserve your right to live without fear of punishment from the government.
However, it looks like some people in San Diego, CA did not get that memo.
A pastor has filed a lawsuit against San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria for removing him from San Diego's Citizens Advisory Board on Police/Community Relations, alleging religious discrimination. The action followed the pastor's abstention from a vote condemning “transphobia”, citing his faith, according to The Christian Post.
Dennis Hodges has been a member of the Human Relations Commission since 2021 and is a pastor of the Church of Yeshua Ha Mashiach in Lemon Grove.
Hodges abstained from a Nov. 2021 Commission vote on "an agenda item relating to the transgender community." According to the outlet, the agenda item was "a letter from the City of San Diego Human Relations Commissioner Tootie Thomas Regarding Ending Discrimination and Transphobia by Amplifying the Visibility and Voices of the Transgender Community."
One commissioner identified the agenda item's purpose as to "send a strong signal that the city and the county" are committed to "ending transphobia."
Hodges did not vote against the resolution, but could not support it either. Which is why he abstained from voting.
Gloria claimed that Hodges “made repeated concerning public comments about LGBTQ people — specifically, the transgender community,” and therefore he could not support his reappointment, according to the complaint.
Hodges claims that Gloria’s decision to veto his reappointment was “solely based on his beliefs on human creation and transgenderism — issues that are unrelated to his role on the Advisory Board.”
The First Amendment protects people from being forced to violate their faith through speech. And on top of that, compelled speech is also unconstitutional. But obviously, that is not how these people see it.
“I have dedicated my life to service,” Hodges said. “I am standing up for religious people nationwide who have been discriminated against solely because of their faith. What happened to me at the hands of our government should never happen to anyone else.”
His attorney, Mariah Gondeiro of Advocates for Faith & Freedom, argues that the Mayor violated the U.S. Constitution.
“People of faith should never be discriminated against because of their convictions,” Gondeiro said. “Pastor Hodges’s removal from this Commission sets a dangerous precedent for the prejudicial hiring and firing practices of government boards. It is unacceptable that individuals of faith are being explicitly forbidden from serving in government simply because of their faith. The Mayor of San Diego must be held accountable for his unconstitutional actions.”
Demanding that a specific political interest bridge religious freedom is backwards, at best. Religious Freedom was recognized as a natural right before the Constitution was even drafted. This right means that no one should have to go against their beliefs in order to conform to government or culture.
Religious freedom protects people’s right to live according to their beliefs both publicly and peacefully. A state or government that allows one's conscience to be violated will likely not stall to infringe on other rights.
Let's hope that the court does the right thing here because when courts uphold religious freedom, they uphold our highest law.